The story is reported where a young man who, while of great significance, was in the midst of a very difficult season in his life. It was as if he was living in a desert all alone.
When it seemed that things could not get any worse, a former friend, now perhaps the one who hated him the most, came on the scene. Everything the young man believed in, worked for…the very things that defined him, the antagonist hated and tried to destroy. On this occasion however, as opposed to the words hate and threats normally filled his mouth, there seemed to be nothing but kind words are helping hand. But with each offer of help, there were strings attached. Simple at first, but they became progressively more costly.
First, he offered a simple meal. Simple provisions – after all the young man was quite hungry. Knowing that the intentions were not simple or sincere, the young man declined but instead held fast to what he knew to be true.
Next he was offered protection, safety, and security, all in exchange for simply coming to work for him. “It will be a great job” was the offer. The young man would be the “Poster Boy” of all of his adversary’s work and efforts. He simply had bend “a little” and take the offer. Realizing again the offer was filled with lies, he again declined. In stead, recounting what he knew was true and right.
Finally, becoming more desperate and angry the enemy said that he he’d share everything and give him all the power and control he could want, if he would just be his Executive Vice President and help to advance the ideas that were so contradictory to who he was. That was enough. With the final effort, strength and resolve that was remaining, he restated his commitment to his principles and told him to leave and that he should leave now.
Later the man was restored and encouraged by his friends, and he did make it out of the desert experience, it was not the last difficulty he would encounter or the last interaction with former friend.
As I thought through the story it caused me to consider the offers I receive that ensure my own provisions, protection and power. I’m certain that when I become “fuzzy” on who I am and what I believe (and even why I believe it) the offers and temptations to “bend a little” can seem very appealing.
Take Away: A few questions to consider
- What are the core values that define who you are?
- Do you really know what they are?
- How do those values define and draw the line as to what you are willing to do (for your family, your career, your customers, etc.) in order to gain provisions, protection or power?
- When you start to lose site of those values, how do you get back on track?
- When those values are challenged, how do you know they are right? What gives them weight or authority in your life? Why?